Fay Cooper Cole Collection

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia, inhabited by diverse ethnic groups. Its residents represent a unique blend of indigenous cultures (represented by 67 extant languages) combined with sustained influences by Chinese, Arab, Spanish, and North American groups over the historical and colonial periods.



Agusan image from The Field Museum's Philippine collection

(© Department of Anthropology, Field Museum)

The Field Museum is home to a valuable collection of over 10,000 objects from the Philippines, one of the largest and most comprehensive Philippines collections in the Western Hemisphere. While this collection contains a number of objects from the heavily Hispanicized societies of the lowland central Philippines, the greater part of the collection originates from tribal peoples of Luzon and Mindoro, as well as tribal and Muslim peoples of Mindanao, Palawan and Sulu.

The highlights of the collection include textiles, personal adornments, weapons, ritual equipment, basketry, woodcarvings, musical instruments, smoking pipes, and export ceramics.


Approximately three-fourths of the objects in this collection were collected during field expeditions between 1907 and 1910 by anthropologists F. C. Cole, William Jones, and S.C. Simms. These expeditions were funded by a manufacturer from Alton, IL named R.F. Cummings. Inspired by his visit to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, where he was greatly intrigued by the Philippines exhibition, Cummings set out to amass a collection of Philippine objects to display in Illinois. 


The expeditions led by F. C. Cole were quite successful, as he collected over 5,000 objects from various areas of the Philippines. Williams Jones, however, was not so fortunate. He was killed during an expedition in March of 1909 while with the Ilongots in the Caraballo Mountains of eastern Luzon Island. The reasons and motives surrounding his death remain unclear. After news of this tragedy reached Chicago, S. C. Simms traveled to Luzon to complete the work William Jones had begun. 

Of the Philippine objects not acquired on field expeditions, many were given to The Field Museum by U.S. soldiers who served in the Philippine-American War during the early 1900s.